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Birds. Ornithology is the study of birds. In a clade with dinosaurs!!. Taxonomy Kingdom Animalia Phylum Chordata Subphylum Vertebrata Class Aves. General Characteristics. Birds! Endotherms **Warm blooded (endothermic ) Metabolically regulate body temp Horny bill

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Ornithology is the study of birds

In a clade with dinosaurs
In a clade with dinosaurs!!

  • Taxonomy

    • Kingdom Animalia

    • Phylum Chordata

    • Subphylum Vertebrata

    • Class Aves

General characteristics
General Characteristics

  • Birds!

  • Endotherms

    • **Warm blooded(endothermic)

    • Metabolically regulate body temp

  • Horny bill

    • Toothless, but maybe ridged

General characteristics cont
General Characteristics Cont.

  • Dioecious

    • Provide extensive parental care

  • ^Lays Eggs

  • Molting

    • Replacement

      of feathers

General characteristics cont1
General Characteristics Cont.

  • Forelimbs modified into wings

  • **Syrinx – distinct for vocalization (song box)

  • **Hollow, lightweight bones (sometimes filled with air!)

  • Heart with a completely divided ventricle (4 chambers)

  • ^Legs covered by scales!!(birds are related to reptiles)

  • **Furculum (wishbone) – many muscles attachments

General characteristics cont2
General Characteristics Cont.

  • **Migrate

    • Move to adapt to environment

  • Special adaptations for flight

Flight adaptations
Flight Adaptations

  • ^Feathered wings (these are

    modified scales!)

  • ?^Quills that form a “mesh netting” to

    keep wings extra light – is this a

    bridge to the echidna?

  • Light bones

    • Hollow air spaces inside

Types of feathers
Types of Feathers

  • Contour feathers give the bird its characteristic smooth round shape. They also give the bird its visual coloring and provide a first level of defense against physical objects, sunlight, wind and rain. They are very important.

  • Down feathers are smaller and lack the barbules and their accompanying hooklets so they are not zipped together and do not look as neat. In fact they are soft and fluffy. They provide most of the insulation and are so good at this that mankind for many years collected down feathers from various birds to put into sleeping bags and jackets to help keep us warm.

  • Semiplumesare half-way between a contour feather and a down feather. These occur between the contour feathers and help to supply insulation and a certain amount of form as well.

  • Filoplumes are very small and have only a very few barbs at their tips. They are believed to have a sensory function, helping birds keep their feathers in order.

Types of feathers1
Types of Feathers

Down Feather


Contour Feather

(flight, color,





  • **Preen Gland at base of tail secretes oil to keep them water proof - "like water off a duck's back”

  • Preening is a behavior that replaces the oil on feathers, and repairs broken links on the vanes

Avian respiration and circulation
Avian respiration and circulation

  • ^*A four chambered heart prevents oxygen rich blood from mixing with oxygen poor blood - it is a double-loop

  • **Air goes through the lungs (so very little expansion) into air sacs from air sacs into body upon exhalation.

  • **Exhaling removes wastes and lowers body temperature.

Bird digestion
Bird Digestion

  • Birds digest food quickly, they can't afford the extra weight.

  • *They have no teeth, the breakdown of food occurs in the gizzard - sometimes birds swallow rocks to assist this

  • Feeding the young...mother birds regurgitate food stored in the crop to their babies

  • Waste exits through the cloaca - and so do eggs

Bird brain
Bird Brain

  • Birds have an excellent sense of sight, but most do not have a good sense of smell – eagles have ~100/20 vision

  • **Many birds are intelligent and can solve problems/puzzles through thought

  • **Birds can learn to “talk”, but really they are just mimicking sounds they hear


Bird Brain


Beaks and feet
Beaks and Feet

  • Highly adapted beaks and feet. Study of the beak and the feet of a bird gives information about its lifestyle

  • Beaks

    • Short and thick - seed cracking (robin)

    • Long and thin, slightly curved - eating nectar (hummingbird)

    • Strong, chisel like - drilling (woodpecker)Sharp, curved and pointed - tearing flesh (hawk)

    • Long and flattened - straining algae and plants (ducks)

    • Spear shaped - spearing fish (heron)



  • 3 toes in front, 1 behind - perching (robin)

  • 2 toes in front, 2 behind - climbing (parrot)

  • Powerful curved talons - grasping prey (hawk)

  • ^webbed- swimming (duck)

  • Long and thin - wading (heron)

  • Thick and stout - running (ostrich)

Birds are classified by the beaks and their feet. There are many bird orders, but here are some of the more common orders.

  • Order Passeriformes - songbirds (bluebirds, robins, sparrow)

  • Order Falconiformes- birds of prey (hawk, falcon, eagle)

  • Order Anseriformes - swimming birds (duck, goose, swan)

  • Order Galliformes - fowl (pheasant, turkey)

  • Order Ciconiformes - wading birds (heron, flamingo)

Courtship behavior and reproduction
Courtship Behavior and Reproduction many bird orders, but here are some of the more common orders.

  • ^*Birds often engage in elaborate courtship behavior for mating purposes. These include:

    • Singing

    • Dancing and posturing

    • Preening (each other)

    • Bright colorful displays

    • Architecture!

  • **Some birds mate for life, and often both parents raise young.

Raising the young
RAISING THE YOUNG! many bird orders, but here are some of the more common orders.

  • Some birds incubate eggs for a long time - chicks are born with feathers and can walk/swim (ducks)

  • Some birds incubate eggs a short time - chicks are born featherless and helpless (robins)

Behavior other
BEHAVIOR (other) many bird orders, but here are some of the more common orders.

  • Birds do not normally have a good sense of smell, except in carrion eaters (vultures) - a baby bird that falls out of a nest can be put back in, the mother probably won't know the difference (Brown headed Cowbird)

  • Bird poop you find on your car is actually a mixture of urine and solid waste - birds cannot store waste – can’t afford extra weight!

  • Some birds can learn to mimic speech, like a parrot - but they can't actually communicate